How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog
By Chad Orzel
(Basic Books, Paperback, 9780465023318, 336pp.)
Publication Date: February 2012
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Everyone talks to their pets; Chad Orzel tells his about relativity.
Chad Orzel received his BA in physics from Williams College, his Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Maryland, and his postdoctorate from Yale University. He maintains a regular blog, Uncertain Principles, and is author of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog. He is currently a professor at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He lives near campus with his wife, their daughter, and, of course, Emmy.
Steve Nadis, coauthor of The Shape of Inner Space
“Emmy may be one smart dog, but her owner also happens to be an uncommonly gifted communicator. Chad Orzel’s treatment of special and general relativity is comprehensive, informative, and amazingly accessible, yet it’s funny too. This is, by far, the most entertaining discussion of the subject that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.”
Frank Close, author of The Infinity Puzzle
“With Nero, the egocentric cat who believes it is the centre of the universe, and Emmy, the student dog whose questions and misunderstandings would drive any teacher to distraction, and whose interest in relativity is how E=mc^2 can turn squirrels into energy, Chad Orzel has created a delightful cast of characters to make his introduction to relativity relatively painless. A cleverly crafted and beautifully explained narrative that guides readers carefully into the depths of relativity. Whether you are a hare or a tortoise, or even a dog, you will enjoy this.”
“Everyone’s favorite physics-loving canine is back, this time giving us a dog’s eye view of Einstein and relativity. Physics professor Chad Orzel leads Emmy (and us) through an engaging tour of light speed, time dilation, and amazing shrinking bunnies (length contraction)—not to mention what all this means for the search for the elusive ‘bacon boson.’” Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here“Dogs are a practical species. They aren’t interested in speculation and conjecture; they like food, walks, and proven physics like Einstein’s relativity. If you really want to further your dog’s education (and learn something yourself in the process), Chad Orzel’s book is the first place you should turn.” Publishers Weekly
“[A] compact and instructive walk through Einstein’s theory of relativity. . . . [T]he prose is breezy and straightforward, and the material well organized. . . . Relativity constantly amazes, and the glimpses of understanding provide rewarding and satisfying moments.” Kirkus Reviews “Unlike quantum physics, which remains bizarre even to experts, much of relativity makes sense. Thus, Einstein’s special relativity merely states that the laws of physics and the speed of light are identical for all observers in smooth motion. This sounds trivial but leads to weird if delightfully comprehensible phenomena, provided someone like Orzel delivers a clear explanation of why.”
“A clever introduction to the often intimidating concepts of special and general relativity, couched as a series of conversations between the author and his dog, Emmy. It may sound like a strange setup, but the somewhat kooky concept works well for explaining a field of physics that can sound, well, kooky to the uninitiated. . . . While keeping the math to a minimum, Orzel provides a clear and thorough primer. It might take some practice to start equating subatomic particles to running bunnies, but the reader will find that puzzling through the details is worth the effort.”
“With canine humor and math- or physics-related jokes, Orzel keeps readers interested, while teaching the elements of physics that we promptly forgot after we took the test.” Library Journal
“Readers who enjoy Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, or Neil deGrasse Tyson will love this book. Full of quotes, math jokes, and silly canines, the book strives to make its audience amazed by, not frightened of, physics. With exuberant Emmy at the lead, readers can’t help but be dragged (willingly!) toward a better understanding of special and general relativity.”
“Rather than barking or growling, Emmy leavens the mood with requests for walks; and when the academics get heavy, she interjects to beg for clarification. Obviously, real-life dogs will not walk away from the book with a grasp of the universe’s mechanics, but the human sort of non-scientist can get some benefit.” Nature Physics “[E]ngaging and readable for a general audience. . . . I suggest people who baulk at the idea of a talking dog but are nevertheless interested in the broad sweep of one of the two great theories of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries should give this book a chance. After all, every dog has its day.”
“Amusing and engaging. . . . It’s informal and has a lightness of touch that can be reassuring when trying to get your head around some big concepts.”
New York Times “Witty and clear-thinking. . . . Professor Orzel, who teaches physics at Union College and runs the blog Uncertain Principles, is turning his own dog, Emmy, into something of a franchise….succinct and entertaining …. bravo to both man and dog.”